A mass rally cum public meeting was held on Friday in protest against the ever-increasing rate of crime on women and children in the state of Manipur.
Held at the Social Worker's club Heirangoithong, Imphal West, it was organised by Campaign Committee on Crime Against Women, Conflict Widow Forum, Domestic Violence Forum, Indigenous Women Forum Manipur, Core Committee 'Phaknung Gang Rape', Christian Network for Positive Women, JAC of all forms of violence and survivor’s family, student bodies, CSOs, etc.
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The mass rally was flagged off by Manipur State Commission for Women (MSCW) chairperson Salam Ulka from Kakwa Lamdaibung, Imphal West and went via Singjamei SuperMarket, Singjamei Chingamakha upto Social Welfare’s Club, Heirangoithong. About 500 women, young girls and boys, including students took part in the rally.
Protestors held banners that read, ‘Establish anti-sexual harassment cell in every institution’, ‘Recruit chairperson of Manipur Human Rights Commission immediately’, ‘Keep FSL unit in every district’, ‘Amend gender policy and budget’, etc.
They also held placards that read, ‘Hang the rapist’, ‘Install DNA testing machine’, ‘Police! Don’t support the rapist’, ‘Women are not sex object’, ‘Justise delay is justice denied’.
Speaking to the media, chairperson of MSCW, Salam Ulka, said that the commission will conduct meetings with police officials in connection with the delay in investigations. In the state, the crime against women and children is not stopping but when compared to other states, the crime against women and children in the state is not high, she added.
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“As far as possible the commission is ready to fight for fact and truth and justice for victim”, said Ulka.
Women Action for Development (WAD) secretary, Sobita Mangsatabam, said they acknowledged that there are some cases where justice is delivered to the victim and its family. However, it’s very unfortunate that the conviction rate is still very low in the state. In the past 7-10 years it is observed that there is a rapid increase of case related to crime against women and children in the state, she lamented.
The mass rally cum public meeting is to discuss and raise issues to the government, she said and to the government to take initiative to protect the children, women victims by delivering justice without delay. She further appealed to the state government to immediately install the DNA testing machine in Manipur and urged to strengthen the criminal justice delivery system by periodically training the police and other related agencies.
During the public meeting, speakers expressed deep concerned on rising violence against women and children in Manipur and condemned the failure and irresponsible nature of the state government for not installing well equipped machineries of forensic science laboratory.
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They also expressed that delay and regular postponement of the case proceeding makes the victim and victim's family suffer more and traumatised. The increasing heinous crime against women is a serious gender-based violence which is a crime against humanity, they stated.
The public meeting resolved to urged the government and Governor of Manipur for immediate arrest of Yumnam Surjitkumar, founder of Saina Institute of Medical Science (SIMS) in connection with the alleged kidnap and rape of a student. They also urged the Governor to contact the union of home affairs, government of India to commission a committee chaired by one retired justice of the Supreme Court to examine all cases of crime against women at the earliest.
The meeting further resolved to urged government of India to invite UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women in Manipur again as follow up of her visit on 2013; to urged to establish anti sexual harassment cell in every institution including private hostel, hospital, medical institution, police academy; to urge the Governor to direct the government of Manipur to speed up the investigation of all the pending cases of crime against women and children and charge sheet the cases at the earliest and also direct the department of law and justice to conduct speedy trial and to establish trauma counselling and psychiatric departments in every district.
The meeting further urged the Governor to establish a fast-track court in every district and to establish a Forensic Science Laboratory in every district.
During the mass rally, participants from NGO organisation of different districts, FESOK’s students, Kakwa Meira Paibi-Clubs, Thongju VLF, CSO’s from Senapati, Chandel, Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Tengnoupal and Changangai Kabui, Chiri Ingkhol Kabui Khul, street vendors and victim survival’s family and street vendors participated.